India became the first team to reach the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals on Thursday after beating New Zealand by three runs to register a third successive victory at the tournament.
India, put into bat, could not make the most of a strong start but their 133-8 still proved beyond Sophie Devine’s team, who managed 130-6.
Once again, leading India’s charge was opener Shafali Verma whose 46 earned the 16-year-old her second player-of-the-match award at Melbourne’s Junction Oval.
Her opening partner Smriti Mandhana disappointed again though, dragging a wide Lea Tahuhu delivery onto her stumps to depart on 11.
Verma and Taniya Bhatia (23) forged a half-century stand to prop up the Indian innings, aided by some sloppy catching by their opponents.
Verma, who smashed Anna Peterson for back-to-back sixes, was first dropped by Maddy Green at long on and then at midwicket by Tahuhu.
The opener eventually holed out at long-off as wickets started tumbling.
“She’s giving us good starts as we expected from her,” said captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who fell for her third successive single digit score.
“I hope she continues that because those initial runs are very crucial for us.”
New Zealand wobbled early in their chase after their top three, including skipper Devine, departed with the team reeling at 34-3.
Green made 24 and Katey Martin contributed 25 to arrest the slide but it was Amelia Kerr’s lion-hearted 34 not out down the order which injected excitement into the contest.
Needing 16 off the last over from Shikha Pandey, Hayley Jensen and Kerr hit a boundary each and ran three singles but could not reach the target.
Defending champions Australia remained on course to be the second team from Group A to make the semi-finals after crushing Bangladesh by 86 runs in Canberra.
Electing to bat, the hosts capitalised on a blistering start from Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney to post 189-1, the highest total at this year’s tournament.
Player-of-the-match Healy smacked three sixes in her 53-ball 83, while Mooney remained not out on 81 off 58 balls.
The duo featured in a record opening stand of 151 before Healy fell in the 17th over.
Left with a mountain to climb, Bangladesh managed 103-9, losing three wickets in three balls, including two run-outs, in the final over.
“It was a good all-round performance. It was something that we really needed,” home captain Meg Lanning said.
“We were a little bit timid in the first few games. World Cups are all about big games and we want to be a part of them.”